At his installation today, the new bishop of Durham, Paul Butler, said that his priority will be to fight hardship and poverty in the North East. What is the betting that his campaign will not include my hardship and poverty? But then mine was caused not by the government but by one of his colleagues and was made possible by the Church of England's exemption from disability rights legislation.
Bishop Butler is very keen to take the government to task over their welfare reforms because he believes them to be unjust. Surely discrimination against an employee, because the employee suffered in the past from depression, is just as unjust.
I will have to wait and see if this new bishop has a more pastoral heart than his predecessor or his neighbour. I fear, based on my personal experience of bishops, that it will be "and wait, and wait, and wait. and wait..." Why? Because "Bishop helps man with mental health problems" is not going to make the headlines on the front page of the newspapers.
Am I being cynical? Well, yes I am. Nigh on fours years of being unemployed, unable to follow my calling and trying to survive on £500 a month has certainly brought the cynic within me to the fore. Nobody within the Church has even been prepared to put in a good word for me let alone do anything practical about my situation. One bishop even said that he had considered my situation carefully and decided that he couldn't help me because I had "a lot of baggage." In other words he couldn't help me solve my problems because I had problems.
Whatever, at the end of the day, it is actually all down to the fact that one bishop will not do anything that might be construed as being an acceptance that another bishop got it wrong. Although my exile from the Church is down to different criteria to the exile of gay people from the Church, the failure of any bishop to do the right thing and show some Christian compassion is due to exactly the same thing - collegiality. Damn that collegiality.
Am I going to contact the new bishop in the same way I reached out to Justin Welby?
I have asked for help many times and I always end up disappointed and more injured. Therefore I have decided to do nothing this time. My sadness keeps me very close madness as it is and I don't want to tip myself over the edge by allowing myself to hope. Therefore, if he notices my existence and decides to make the first move himself I will be very grateful. But I am not going to initiate any meeting myself this time. I have found that asking a bishop for help is seen as an aggressive act by bishops and is, therefore, counterproductive.
To sum up the problem of getting a bishop to act like a good shepherd here is a quote from a comment left by a friend on my Facebook wall"
"That was my experience, too. He acted as though responding to my situation would trigger a slippery slope of having to respond to others in similar or related situations, and that would be a VERY BAD THING."